Omar Shahine has a post where he talks about FireAnt. FireAnt is communications part of the AJAX framework shared by Hotmail, Start.com, MyMSN and MSN Spaces which Steve Rider alluded to in his post Spaces, Hotmail and Start (oh my!).
Last summer we spent a lot of time at the white-board evaluating a number of ways to deliver a new architecture for Hotmail. We considered a number of things:
- Modification of the current C/C++ ISAPI architecture to support a hybrid ASP model.
- .NET rewrite for the DataLayer and BusinessLayer and XML/XSLT for the PresentationLayer
We extended .NET Attributes to mark classes and methods as FireAnt classes/methods and at build time the script is generated. If you think of SOAP support in the .NET Framework, it’s basically similar. As a developer you do not worry about generating SOAP messages, or building a SOAP parser. All you do is mark your method as [WebMethod] and your classes as [Serializable] and the .NET framework takes care of proxying, class generation etc. That’s what we were shooting for.
We’ve since showed our stuff to a number of teams inside Microsoft. As a result of our work, Walter and Scott have spent a considerable amount of time with the Whidbey/ASP.NET folks and it’s pretty exciting to see ATLAS come together. If you want to learn more, Walter will be giving a talk at the PDC on what we’ve built. It’s great so see collaboration between our team and the Developer Division as the end result will be a better more scalable version of the .NET Framework for you.
Trying to build a complex AJAX website with traditional Visual Studio.NET development tools is quite painful which is why the various teams at MSN have collaborated and built a unified framework. As Omar points out, one of the good things that has come out of this is that the various MSN folks went to the Microsoft developer division and pointed out they are missing
the boat key infrastructure needed for AJAX development. This feedback was one of the factors that resulted in the recently announced Atlas project.
If you're going to be at the Microsoft Professional Developer's Conference (PDC) and are interested in professional AJAX development you should definitely make your way to the various presentations by the MSN folks. Also, we're always looking for developers so if building AJAX applications that will be utilized by millions of people on a daily basis sounds like your cup of tea give us your resume.